In the nineties, when I used to hang out at Phileo Allied Securities, there was a young man (nicknamed 'Mei Kok Chai' or American boy), who worked a number of years in US, saved some money and came back to trade in shares. There was another young man with better personality, who was regularly seen in the stockbroking firm. He was nicknamed by Mei Kok Chai as 'Doctor face', for his seemingly studious and knowledgeable look of a medical doctor!
Recently, our Police uncovered a company specializing in producing fake degrees, which included options for convocation ceremonies and dinners! To make it look authentic, someone would even act as Dean or even Chancellor of the particular university! Presumably, if anyone has the necessary impressive intellectual look of a Chancellor, he stands a chance to be hired! Other times, maybe he could stand in as Santa Claus during Christmas season.
Years ago, I found to my astonishment, someone with a professional qualification and a senior post in a big company, having a calling card with his 'Christian' name followed by his surname only, without any mention of his position nor qualfications. He was so self confident I thought to myself. Now, I have seen calling cards bearing positions held, but nary a mention of his or her qualifications.
On other occasions, I had come across bosses of their own smallish companies who described themselves as just 'Manager' and only close friends and relatives knew they owned the businesses. This act of humility was also a ploy to fend off would be opportunists out to request for dubious donations or even hoodlums extorting money.
But obviously, it takes all kinds of people to make our lives interesting. While there are people who have the knowledge or money but do not wish to display them, there are others who would pretend they are more than what they are! We live in a world where 'money talks' or 'No money, no talk', much like Marriot Hotel's advertisement, 'No Malliot, no Mally!' So can we blame those who tried ever so hard to impress with their flashy cars, posh homes and branded clothes and accessories? As they say, 'first impression counts' but it could backfire instead... like those who bought their fake degrees from the following 'universities' :
"The universities were the University of Rockhampton (United States), Harvey International University (United States), Cannington Brook University (United Kingdom), Glastonbury University (United Kingdom) and Charles Molnar University (Hungary)."
Read more: VIPs bought fake degrees - General - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/vips-bought-fake-degrees-1.113455
They must be having sleepless nights, for fear of being found out and their names displayed in the newspapers!
As for those pretenders, it can be quite hilarious, especially those nouveau riche who acquired wealth recently. They did not have the time to refine themselves. It takes time, sometimes, over one or two generations. They might have the substance but not the grace. No, I am not speaking as one who is refined (did not have the chance!), but being a socialist at heart, I don't even feel comfortable seating alone at the back of a car, with someone's driver at the wheel.
I was at my former mechanic's place in KL, when a smallish Merc driven by a mature lady drove by and stopped. I thought I recognized her but could not place her. Anyway, she got out of her car and sat at the back while her driver who was waiting nearby got into the driver's seat and drove off. I said she looks familiar and was told who she is, but I was more amused by what the mechanic said about her trying to show off when there was no necessity to employ a driver!
This reminded me of the time when I told a former classmate who was driven to and from college in a Merc, of her different social standing. For the next few days, she actually sat in front with the driver, until probably told off by her parents. She actually tried very hard to fit in with the rest of us, like using those box files (common then) instead of her original leather brief case. She was refined even then, and spoke impeccable English.
A look at fake intellectuals elsewhere...
BBC News - Viewpoint: The spectre of plagiarism haunting Europe